Where would we be without the inventions of the great men of the world? Apple - Steve Jobs, the telephone - Alexander Graham Bell, the atomic bomb - Albert Einstein, the gun - Richard Gatling. Nowhere - right? But what about those more practical inventions, the ones that are necessity - those that you use unthinkingly every day?
Below are inventions by women that you could not live without - whether for sanity or vanity, everything below - from the dishwasher to the hairbrush, was invented by women for practicality and advantageous purposes. They go largely unrecognized now, because they are mostly objects or entities we take for granted, but SWAAY has decided to pause amidst the roaring tide of products and inventions that we could live without in 2017, to languish in the glory of those that we really couldn't survive without.
The Car Heater
Margaret Wilcox is the woman you have to thank for 1. de-fogging your windows and 2. keeping you toasty in sub-0 temperatures in your car. She was patented for the car radiator back in 1893 and how many lives/chilly journeys has she saved since? Millions. Try picture a car journey in December through the mountains, without a heater, cold right? All hail Wilcox for our fingers and toes getting through the chillier of seasons.
Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr became a trailblazer in the field of wireless communications when she moved to the U.S.
Working to combat Nazi transmissions during WWII, her and co-inventor George Anthiel warped radio frequencies to break difficult code. The invention would go on to prove extremely useful during the Cuban Missile Crisis and their work has now translated into tech such as wifi and bluetooth. She was the first female to receive the 'oscar' of inventor awards - the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award back in 1977.
The Computer Algorithm
Born Ada Gordon, but known as Ada Lovelace - child of the renowned poet Lord Byron and math whiz Annabella Milbanke, was 'the first computer programmer' to produce algorithms. Lovelace came across Charles Babbage, philosopher, mathematician and mechanical engineer, in her pursuit of a career in mathematics, and the pair would go on to become great friends. Babbage called Lovelace 'The Enchantress of Science', and indeed, she would be the first of all those working with him to produce the goods for his vision of the 'analytical engine', or computer. Her articles rendered the most sense and logic towards this dream machine and were the first published. The list of consequences that emerged from Lovelace's work is very literally endless. And yet it's Babbage's name that most will regognize - why? It was a recurring problem at the time and an analysis of a lot of female inventors will find that many hid in the shadows of the man or guardian or male co-inventor in their life, only to emerge now, in the whits of feminism for the praise and inspirational achievements.
Florence Parpart, a historical mystery, was indeed the inventor of the modern 'fridge'. In 1914, she won a second patent for the modern refrigerator. Apart was listed as a housewife in the U.S census for most of her life, although of course those few historical records pertaining to her inventions would have you believe otherwise. The thoughts of not having a fridge are baffling - what would happen to milk? How would you keep white wine or beer cold? How would one make ice? Where would you store chicken? How would you keep your brie from melting? Absurd.
Lyda Newman may not be the OG inventor of the hairbrush - she is however responsible for how it looks and feels today. This African-American introduced the synthetic bristles to the brush and got a patent for this invention back in 1898. Before Lyda, people were using Boar's hair to brush their locks. Lyda's bristles as we know them today collect the impurities in your hair - broken strands etc. and allow for easy removal after you've finished. They're also good for styling up-dos, backcombing, fluffing, coiffing and all other things one does with one's modern hairbrush.
Can you even imagine how many hours of your life you would spend washing your dirty dishes had Josephine Cochrane not invented the dishwasher back in 1886 while elbow deep in a tub of suds? It's unfathomable. Cochrane had been left in severe debt by husband William when inspiration struck after one of her servants broke some of her precious china. The industrial revolution had ended about 40 years previously and Cochrane had seen the fruits of this push for new machinations and inventions and thought why isn't there a machine to wash my dishes. She received her first patent in 1886 and sold all of her dishwashers by herself. A true businesswoman, and lifesaver.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie
Okay, so perhaps you could live without chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps you don't have a sweet-tooth. However, it is my firm belief that Ruth Graves Wakefield changed the world indelibly with her discovery back in 1930. Having served butterscotch nut cookies at her Toll House Inn, MA, she looked for something that would further please her customers, and added that perfect chip of sheer delight in the form of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate. Chocolate and cookies. What an intriguing combination, and one I will forever be indebted to Wakefield for.
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!
I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.
Reflecting On Myself
Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.
This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.
Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!
1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!
2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.
3.) Appreciate how far you have come!
I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.
4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be
If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!
This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.